British artists' suppliers, 1650-1950 - W part 2
A selective directory, to be revised regularly, 1st edition 2006, 2nd edition 2008, 3rd edition October 2011 (*revised entry, **new entry). Contributions and corrections are welcome, to Jacob Simon at email@example.com.
*Elias Wolff 1822-1839, Elias Wolff & Son 1840-1911, E. Wolff & Son Ltd 1911-1920. At 23 Church St, Spitalfields, London 1822-1866, 55 Great Queen St 1867-1915, 82 St Thomas’s St SE 1915-1920, 30 York Road, Battersea by 1901-1919 or later, Falcon Pencil Works, Battersea by c.1870-1920. Pencil makers, coloured crayon makers, artists’ colourmen, etc.
Elias Wolff (c.1780-1854) was recorded in the 1841 census in Church St, Spitalfields as a pencil maker, born in foreign parts, age 60 (ages were rounded down to the nearest five in this census). This long established firm of pencil makers traded for a century or more. It was recorded as Eziah Wolff in 1839 (Pigot’s directory, 1839). It advertised in The Art-Union in the 1840s: newly invented sketching pencils (September 1842 p.219), Creta Lævis or permanent drawing chalk (June 1843 p.155), and ‘a new Grey for Portraits, &c, the silvery tone of which presents great advantages’ (December 1844 p.363). A case alleging infringement of patent was brought against the business by Brockedon in 1848, seeking an injunction for infringing a patent dating to December 1843 for rendering black lead dust or powder into solid blocks by means of dies and pressure, but the case was withdrawn before coming to court (The Art-Union Advertiser April 1848 pp.lxiv-lxv, May 1848 p.xciii).
The business published a trade catalogue, c.1840, advertising Patterns of improved tinted papers: adapted for pencil, crayon, chalk, and water colour drawing (Winterthur Library). Their pencils and Creta Lævis were widely stocked by other companies in the mid-19th century and they exhibited at the 1851 Great Exhibition. The business subsequently advertised as Makers to Her Majesty’s Government, featuring ‘Superior Black-lead and Colored Pencils, Pure Cumberland Lead Drawing Pencils, Royal Academy Drawing Pencils, Compressed Lead Drawing Pencils, Metallic Gold and Silver Cakes For Illuminating, &c (The Artists’ Directory for June 1870, 1870).
Elias Wolff & Son had an account with Roberson, 1846-53 (Woodcock 1997) and supplied pencils to the business from at least 1854 to 1883 or later (Hamilton Kerr Institute, MS 180-1993, 183-1993). For a photograph of the business’s frontage in Queen St in 1906, see Philip Davies, Lost London 1870-1945, 2009, p.141. Its main manufacturing premises appears to have been the Falcon Pencil Works, Battersea, which were used to illustrate a double sided trade sheet as manufacturers of black lead pencils and drawing materials, dating to the 1870s. Wolff’s pencils were sold in Italy by Ditta Luigi Calcaterra, Milan (Catalogo Generale. Colori. Vernici. Pennelli. Articoli per Belle Arti, 1921, 376pp).
In 1911, the business was incorporated as E. Wolff & Son Ltd, for the manufacture of pencils, artists’ materials and stationers’ sundries, by agreement with Elias Wolff’s grandsons, Edward (1839-1913), Lewis (1842-1930), Henry (1851-1916?) and Angelo (1853-1937) (National Archives, BT 31/20349/119084). In 1920, the business was sold to the Royal Sovereign Pencil Co Ltd, which by the 1950s was describing itself as makers of pencils in Great Britain since 1796, with factories at Pontyclun, Glamorgan and Sydney, New South Wales.
Caroline Wood, see William Daniel Steevens
*Cecil William Wood 1861-1871, Wood & Co 1872-1889. At 56 Brompton Row, Kensington, London 1861-1863, road renamed and numbered 1864, 190 Brompton Road 1864-1889. Booksellers, stationers and artists’ suppliers, also listed as photographer until 1871.
Cecil William Wood (1834-72) appears in the 1841 census at St James’s Palace as the six-year-old son of John Wood, a messenger in the Lord Chamberlain’s department, and his wife Catherine. Cecil William Wood died at the age of 37 in Islington in 1872.
Cecil William Wood took premises in Brompton Row in 1861, previously occupied by Thomas Ordish (qv). His business, subsequently trading as Wood & Co, had an account with Roberson, 1861-88 (Woodcock 1997). As Wood & Co, the business traded as artists' colourmen, booksellers and stationers, advertising on their headed invoices, 'The Brompton Photographic Studio is in connection with the above business' (example dated 17 October 1882 in National Portrait Gallery records, Duplicate of Accounts, vol.2, p.35). Several canvas marks have been recorded (information from Cathy Proudlove). James McNeill Whistler's Grey and Silver: Chelsea Wharf, c. 1864/8, is marked: From WOOD & Co 190 BROMPTON ROAD LONDON S.W. (National Gallery of Art, Washington, see Torchia 1998 p.244, possibly an early relining c.1892).
Updated July 2012
John Wragg, Greek St, Soho, London 1777, 1784, 25 Denmark St, Soho 1789-1793, 10 Tottenham Court Road 1799-1801, 2 London St, Fitzroy Square 1802. Carver and lay figure maker.
John Wragg (?c.1737-1804 or later) is presumably the ‘Mr Wragg’, carver and lay figure maker, who advertised from Greek St in 1777 (Daily Advertiser 5 April 1777). He took part in the Westminster election from this address in 1784 (DEFM). As John Wragg, lay figure maker, he was listed in Andrews’s directory at 25 Denmark St in 1789 and 1790. John Wragg features in Holden’s directory as a figure maker in 1799 and as a lay figure maker in 1802, without an entry in 1805. He took out insurance as a figure maker from 10 Tottenham Court Road, on the terrace opposite London St, on 24 June 1801 (Sun Fire Office policy registers, 419/718808). It is likely that he can be identified with the ‘eminent lay figure maker’, age 67, who benefited from galvanic treatment for a paralytic disorder (Charles Henry Wilkinson, Elements of Galvanism, 1804, p.448, accessed through Google Book Search).
A small lay figure once belonging to Roubiliac (Museum of London) was repaired by John Wragg in 1793, as can be seen from his interesting letter from 25 Denmark St to the then owner, Richard French at Derby (information from Beatrice Behlen, Museum of London, June 2012, with thanks to Jane Munro).
John Wragg features in the 3rd Earl of Egremont’s London and Petworth bills as supplying a lay figure with moveable joints, 1799-1800, perhaps for use by one of the artists working at Petworth (West Sussex Record Office: Petworth House Archives, PHA/8064).
Found a mistake? Have some extra information? Please contact Jacob Simon at firstname.lastname@example.org.